This morning, the Rachel Ray show featured folks from a TLC reality TV show that I, at first, thought I misunderstood because I had never heard of anything like it. The show is called “Freaky Eaters”, and documents people who have alleged food addictions to only a certain type of food, or more specifically, only one food.
And I don’t mean your old, alpha-male uncle who insists “I only eat meat at every meal!” – no no. There is a man on this show who, for example, only eats cheeseburgers. That’s it. For every meal. Not hot dogs. Not chicken sandwiches. Not steak. Literally, all he eats for every meal are cheeseburgers.
Another woman has such a sugar addiction. Before she is even out of bed she reaches for her nightstand to consume candy, then gets up. She consumes 6,500 calories a day in sugar.
Other addictions on the show include: cheese, bread, pasta and potatoes.
Thankfully, the show doesn’t just highlight these unusual habits and leave them to be mocked or gawked at like a carnival sideshow. The folks featured receive intensive therapy, coming to terms with the the underlying causes of their addictions (as with drugs or alcohol), and then work with a therapist to overcome the problem.
The shows psychotherapist Mike Dow works to help the addicts understand not just the problems with addiction in general, but also the health, social and environmental ramifications. He shows how relationships have been strained – the hamburger guy’s wife is in culinary school, and she is heartbroken that he will never eat the food she cooks for her family. He piles a wall of pizza boxes to show the trash and waste. He covers a fake grave with sugar.
In the Los Angeles Times, Dow said “When you consider that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, I think there are a lot of people out there who do have a problem. Hopefully, we will see things like people increasing meaningful relationships and decreasing the importance of food, and adding purpose and pleasure to their lives.”